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The change of life, as it is sometimes called, is the time when ovulation ceases for women. If it was only a matter of no longer having to deal with monthly menstruation, most women would look forward to this time. However, menopause occurs as a result of changes in a woman’s reproductive hormones and hormone changes can have ancillary implications.

Menopause officially begins one year after a woman’s final menstruation. This usually occurs somewhere around age fifty. Peri-menopause describes the time period leading up to menopause during which hormone levels are in flux. Some women have normal menstrual cycles right up until their last, but for the majority of women, peri-menopause is characterized by changes in their menstruation. This includes the experience of many symptoms associated with menopause.

Women in peri-menopause, which for most women happens during their 40s, can experience things like night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings and sometimes full-blown depression. Losing these hormones can feel like the loss of the body’s ‘happiness’ chemicals to the woman who suddenly finds herself depressed during peri-menopause. An online newspaper article recently outlined the differences between feeling depressed, mild depression and clinical depression. Since depression may be a new experience for the woman in peri-menopause it is helpful to outline what depression looks like:

  • Sad feelings or feelings of meaninglessness which feel insuperable
  • Low energy and a lack of motivation
  • Trouble sleeping at night
  • Failure to enjoy people and activities that once were pleasurable
  • Lower sex drive
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Irritability

When these symptoms persist over time, it is usually not just a temporary depressed feeling, but something more like clinical depression. For the peri-menopausal woman, the hormone changes she is experiencing can bring on this condition. A woman can determine to add regular exercise to her schedule as a means of combating these symptoms since exercise is a natural mood-enhancer. Learning new things, taking control of thought patterns and even vitamin supplements may help ease symptoms. If symptoms continue however, women should talk with their doctor to see if hormone therapy, anti-depressants or other treatments may be appropriate. Women can’t help entering menopause, but they should do all they can to take charge of how they feel when it comes.

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